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FABRICS

On this page we will try to explain the basic concepts of the complex world of fabrics, so as to explain the differences and avoid confusion. Shirt-making fabrics can be differentiated by the following elements: composition, yarn and weave.

The raw material: a good quality shirt must be made of natural fibres. The most common are cotton, wool, silk and linen; undoubtedly cotton is the king. Sometimes two of these fibres are combined such as cotton and wool, to make villelas, or silk and cotton.

Fibres blended with polyester indicate a shirt of lower quality. An advantage is that it is easier to iron, but it becomes shiny, it is less comfortable as the fabric doesnít breathe, and it doesnít look as good. In fact, it is impossible to find a fabric manufacturer that supplies fabric with fine yarn of a cotton-polyester blend; quality shirts are made from natural fibres. This is why all of our shirts are made of 100% Egyptian cotton, except for the villelas made of wool-cotton.

There are different qualities of cotton depending on the thread length. The longer the thread, the better; the best cottons have threads between 1.5 and 2.25 inches. The best cottons are Egyptian, Sea Island (originally American), and Peruvian. How can you tell the difference? Basically these cotton threads are smoother and stronger.

The yarn: fabric is obviously many metres of yarn put together, therefore its quality and structure determines the quality of the fabric.

First of all, it can be a one or two ply yarn. When it has two plies, it means that each yarn is in fact a doubled thread. This is the well-known "two ply cotton," a term that appears on many shirt labels and which is a sign of quality yarn. One ply yarns does not last as long, and therefore, itís of a poorer quality. The vertical threads of a fabric are called warp threads and the horizontal, weft threads. Now, a good fabric must have two-ply warp and weft threads, and this is known as 2x2.

Now that this is clear, the thread is also distinguished by its staple. This refers to the thickness or fineness of the yarn; the higher the staple, the finer and better quality the yarn.

A standard of the rack shirt has a 50 to 60 staple in one or two ply thread. A good shirt usually has 60ís to 80ís two-ply yarn, and only the best and most exclusive designer shirts spun 100ís two ply yarn. Higher staples are difficult to find in prÍt-ŗ-porter shirts.

We use for our classic line Ė Blue Label Ė 90ís to 100ís two-ply yarn and for our exclusive line - Black Label - between 120ís to 140ís two-ply yarn (mainly Swiss cotton). These staples correspond to an old English measurement which means, for instance, a 100ís yarn has 100 times 380 yards of thread per pound of fabric (that sums up 35 km. in a pound of fabric). The finer the thread, you have to pack more of them per cm2, so that the shirt isnít transparent. These two characteristics (fine thread with high density) make the woven fabric softer and it fits better.

The Weave: finally once the yarn has been made, it can be woven in many different ways to obtain different textures. The most frequent weaves for classic shirting are poplin, oxford, pinpoint oxford, piquť, villela, voile, batiste and chambrais. Of these, the most commonly used is poplin, a fabric in which there are twice as many vertical threads as horizontal. Although widely believed, poplin is not a fabric quality, but a way of weaving the yarn, and thatís why it can be very good or bad quality yarn, made of cotton, cotton-polyester, silk, etc. Oxford fabric is a square weave (with the same number of horizontal and vertical threads) which is usually made with thick yarn to highlight its typical texture; since it is for very casual wear, pinpoint oxford was created, which is a variety of oxford with a finer thread and therefore more formal. Voile is a delicate weave which is made with a very fine but strong thread, and it has a very low fibre density. This combination produces a fabric which is very difficult to make, but unmatchable for warm summer days.

Finally, when buying a shirt the ideal would be to be told what the raw materials are and the thread staple. The weave can be seen by just looking at it as well as by its texture. If you have any doubts, please contact us.

 

 
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